Taking part in the Black Friday frenzy? Here’s how to make it work for your small business

- November 18, 2021 3 MIN READ
black friday

Over the past few years, an American retail phenomenon known as Black Friday has crept into the shopfront windows and websites of Australian retailers. Every 26 November, businesses are known to slash prices and bundle deals, all in the name of a Black Friday bargain. And if years passed are anything to go by, it’s a calendar event that’s here to stay< writes Vladka Kazda, Marketing Director Xero Australia.

Traditionally, large retailers reap the most rewards from Black Friday sales, seeing record purchase volumes online and in-stores. And with the Australian Retailers Association predicting shoppers will spend a record $5.4 billion in this year’s Black Friday to Cyber Monday (its sister online event) long weekend, it proves Australians aren’t shy to splurge in the lead up to Christmas. 

So how do small businesses compete – and exceed – the big brands when it comes to Black Friday sales? And in the wake of shifting lockdowns and pandemic pressures, is it a smart move to jump on the discount bandwagon? We spoke to two self-employed business owners – one, a Black Friday newcomer, and the other, a seasoned sales event pro – to find out, and share some tips for a successful sale event. 

The Black Friday newcomer, Bispha Studios 

Kitch Catterall is the founder of artisan candle business Bispha Studios, and this year will be her first Black Friday sales event. Since 2019, Bispha Studios has gained a fast and dedicated following for its torso-shaped candles that represent realistic body types. And for Kitch, it’s a labour of love, with each candle taking around six hours to make. In turn, this puts limits on how many sales she could fulfil if a Black Friday sale saw an influx of orders. “After all, it’s just me making the candles,” she says. 

Kitch has made some smart preparations in the lead up to Black Friday weekend. “I’ve tried to make my workflow as seamless as possible. That means pre-folding shipping boxes and making sure my labels are stocked up. I usually make the candles to order, but I’ve started preparing more stock. Of course, there’s a financial outlay associated with this, but with a non-perishable product, thankfully nothing will go to waste if it doesn’t sell in the sale,” she says. 

The seasoned sales event pro, The Grampians Goods Co

Like Kitch, Amanda Cochran of lifestyle brand The Grampians Goods Co has never aligned her business with the frenzy surrounding Black Friday sales. “Instead, I run my sale event of the year during the Black Friday to Cyber Monday weekend. I see it as an opportunity for people to experience our products,” says Amanda. 

After years of running her annual sale event, Amanda has learnt a thing or two about what makes a successful campaign. A big part of this is managing customer expectations. “Remember, there are a lot of people out there who don’t know what Black Friday is, so my advice would be to let your customers know what’s coming up. Then, ask them to be mindful of the things like making sure their postal address is correct or considering their purchases wisely if you don’t accept refunds or returns on sale items,” says Amanda.

Five tips for running a successful sale

Adding to Kitch and Amanda’s tips, here are a few things to keep in mind when taking part in Black Friday (or any other kind of sale event): 

  • Remember, your existing customers are your most valuable asset: Bringing in new business is a worthy goal to have when running a sale event. However, it pays to remember that your most important audience is the one that already exists. It’s easier to drive a repeat or additional purchase from existing customers than finding and converting a new one. So consider ways to make your loyal shoppers feel special by offering exclusive early sale access or a loyalty discount.  
  • Choose quality over quantity when it comes to email marketing and social media: When promoting your sale event, pick your social platform with the most customer engagement and leverage that channel with boosted posts to get the word out there. Take a less is more approach with email marketing, using considered and clear messaging. 
  • Set shipping expectations in the lead up to Christmas: Supply and distribution delays are causing major headaches for retailers large and small. And the best way to avoid disappointing your customers is by being upfront about shipping time frames ahead of the silly season. 
  • Make it worth your while: Don’t lose sight of the true value of your time and products for the sake of a sale. There are alternatives to offering discounts, such as including a small bonus gift with purchases over a certain amount. 
  • Set yourself apart from the rest: There’s a feel-good factor that comes with supporting local businesses over large retailers, so show your customers that care is reciprocated. Whether it’s including a handwritten note or offering free gift wrapping, thoughtful gestures will keep customers coming back. 

However, you choose to tackle this Black Friday, set your own rules to create a sale event that works for your brand and customers. After all, it might just be worth the hype. 

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